Weekly Chart: Get the Facts on Immigration and Crime in the United States

By Holly K. Sonneland

For all the talk of deporting criminal immigrants, native-born men are twice as likely to be incarcerated than are foreign-born.

Citing a “recent surge of illegal immigration,” U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order on January 25 that directs the U.S. Congress to authorize funding to build a “contiguous and impassible” physical wall along the country’s nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico, writing that such immigration presents a “clear and present” danger to the country.

The numbers on immigration, though, are at odds with the president’s order, which does not cite specific figures. Just looking at the case of Mexico, from 2009 to 2014, more Mexicans left the United States than entered, and agencies haven’t recorded a significant uptick since.

Not only that, Trump pledged to deport two or three million criminal immigrants, but the numbers indicate his administration would have a difficult time finding that many because, quite simply, they don't exist. Furthermore, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Studies show that communities with larger immigrant populations have lower crime rates than national and regional averages, and native-born men are significantly more likely to commit crimes and be incarcerated—up to five times more likely in some cases—than are foreign-born ones. Some fiscally minded Republicans on Capitol Hill, however, are having doubts about how to pay for the wall, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) priced out at $12 to $15 billion.

This week, AS/COA Online charts out a few facts about immigrants in the United States.